Dalmatian Coast 2007

CHAPTER D

Note: At the bottom of this webpage there is a map that shows in detail the route of “Faneromeni”.

July 11, 07 “Faneromeni” departed at 08:20 from the cove/harbor of Okuklje on the island of Mljet. This island, believed by its contemporary inhabitants to have been Calypso’s island, is the northernmost place that I reached on the Dalmatian Coast. We now headed south, in essence beginning our return trip. Our destination was the group of islands on the Dalmatian Coast called Elaphiti Islands. Passengers were Naxos, Mavrouka, Pissa, and Dyrrhachios. Crew was Scott Mores. The weather was good, completely unlike the previous day when we arrived. After a few miles with calm seas we transited the channel that separates the islands Otok Šipan and Otok Jakljan. The whole scenery is green, the water inviting, we had lovely sunshine. A situation that one dreams about.

Approaching the picturesque small harbor of Sipanska Luka on the island of Šipan.
Croatia, July 2007                             (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

We arrived at 09:28 and after 9 nM from Okuklje at the cove/harbor of Sipanska Luka on the island of Šipan. Šipan also Sipano (Italian: Giuppana) is the largest of the Elaphiti Islands and is northwest of Dubrovnik. Their name is of Greek origin, deriving from the Elaphiti Archipelagos from the Greek word for deer Elaphos (Έλαφος). The Roman author Pliny the Elder was the first to mention the islands in his work Naturalis Historia.

The small harbor of Sipanska Luka on the island of Šipan.
Croatia, July 2007                              (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

I went ashore with the dinghy to explore the harbor. After a nice walk I returned to the caïque. As there was a northerly breeze I judged that if the wind was to strengthen we would not be too secure in this cove and we might have a hard time. So I decided to relocate to the Otok Lopud island and not to overnight here.

We departed at 10:28 but after transiting the channel that separates the islands Otok Šipan and Otok Jakljan the wind became stronger and there were substantial waves. Fortunately the distance to our destination was short. Nevertheless, by the time we got there both the wind and the waves had seriously increased. Finally we arrived in the cove of O. Sunj that is located on the northern side of the the island Otok Lopud. Our time of arrival was 11:35 and we had come 8 nM from Sipanska Luka. Otok Lopud is also part of the Elaphiti group of islands. There were several boats anchored off in the cove. I anchored, for better security, at the head of the cove. In the meantime, the wind had increased further and many of the boats were dragging. “Faneromeni,” however, was stable in her place. After taking our four-legged passengers ashore in the dinghy, we took a walk and without waiting too much time returned to the caïque. There was no taverna ashore and Scott cooked our dinner. During the evening and the night we were on standby because of the strong wind.

July 12, 07 We departed from the cove of O. Sunj at 08:08 . Our destination was Cavtat. Although the wind had somewhat subsided it was still blowing. But since the wind came from our broadside it did not bother us. Here the Greek nautical expression “Πρύμα μισό λιμάνι” (Downwind is half a harbor) was very applicable. As we were closing-in on our destination the wind kept weakening.

Cavtat is built on the saddle point of a pine-tree wooded peninsula. There are two gulfs, one on each side of the peninsula. The harbor, which accommodates large yachts, is in one them. I had moored here when I cleared the entry formalities into Croatia. The other gulf, which is named U. Tiha, has a small harbor for smaller boats. In the wider gulf there were many boats anchored off. I had decided not to go to the harbor as before but instead to U. Tiha. When we were rather close to the gulf, the wind completely died down and the sea was nice and calm. Finally we arrived at the small harbor and anchored offshore at 10:00 and after 13 nM.

“Faneromeni” in the gulf of U. Tiha.
Croatia, July 2007                             (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

The wind by then had died and the day was full of sunshine. We went swimming with the dinghy and the quadrupeds. Everything was very pleasant. After we returned, I left them on the caïque and I took the dinghy by myself and went to the small harbor. I wanted to explore it and to buy some food provisions.

Approaching the small harbor of U. Tiha in the dinghy.
Croatia, July 2007                          (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

Sometime after I returned with the provisions we took a shoreline from our stern to a rock ashore. I was counting on overnighting here. All afternoon it was dead calm and pleasant. Around dusk slowly, ever so slowly, a light land breeze arose from the direction of our shoreline. At first I did not pay too much attention. I said to myself that it is an evening land breeze and after sunset it will stop. But instead of stopping it increased. I was not too concerned at first since the shoreline was holding us and it was tied to a large and secure rock. But then I became uneasy. As time passed the wind kept getting stronger. Fortunately it was always from the land direction. I said to Scott: “Let’s go and deploy a second shoreline, just in case, and to have a worry-free night. After we deployed the second line I felt much more secure. Around midnight the wind suddenly stopped, completely. Not more then a few minutes passed when a strong wind arose again, but this time from the opposite direction, that is from our bow. As the time went by this wind kept increasing and now there were waves. I thought that we should remove our shoreline so that if needed we can just raise the anchor and depart unimpeded by the line astern. So we went with the dinghy, and after some difficulty because of the waves we untied the line from the rocks. In the meantime, the wind was putting stress on the anchor’s chain and the boat was closer to the shore. I did not like this situation at all.

July 13, 07 I decided that we must raise the anchor and relocate to the middle of the gulf so that, if the wind increased even more, we would be as far as possible from the shore. We raised the anchor at 01:00 and moved further out. In the meantime, the wind had increased very much. The waves were rather substantial, even though we were in a gulf and the wind was not from the direction of the open sea but from the opposite shore. In addition it started to rain. It was pitch dark and this, coupled with the rain, had substantially reduced visibility. As if all these potential dangers were not enough, worse trouble was to come. Most of the boats that were anchored in the gulf—and there was a fair number of them—began to drag their anchors and so they had to raise them, move, and re-anchor. This movement of the boats in the dark and under such conditions of wind and waves was a nightmare.

Very, very carefully and with some difficulty I managed to drive the caïque exactly where I wanted and anchor. Although the distance was small, just 1.5 nM, it took almost an hour and a half to accomplish this. Conditions were extreme. I dropped the left anchor and paid out the chain. After I had let out 60 meters and after making sure that the anchor was holding, I prepared the second right anchor. This anchor is much larger than the left. I let it hang, ready to drop. I then engaged the engine slightly and moved the boat about 10 meters to the right, at which point I dropped the second anchor. I then slowly paid out its chain. This way we ended with 100 meters of scope on the left and 50 on the right. The chain is 14 mm diameter. The second right large anchor is seldom used, perhaps once every two years. This way “Faneromeni” was secured and we breathed a sigh of relief.

Of course by then the wind was howling and the caïque bobbed up and down as if she was a small rowboat, and the rain poured down. About that time Scott started to scream: “Dyrrhachios, Dyrrhachios.” A violent gust of the strong wind had lifted the poor bird’s cage and was about to cast it into the raging sea. Scott just barely managed to grab it in time and the bird was saved. After this we moved Dyrrhachios and his cage inside the bathroom down in the cabin. I also took all the dogs into the pilothouse because by then they were thoroughly drenched. They kept very quiet and did not budge. We breathed a second sigh of relief.

The next thing I did was to go into the pilothouse and monitor the depth sounder. Any change in depth would be an indignation that we were dragging. I also monitored by radar the movement of the other boats. By now we were in a nightmare situation. Almost all of the other boats had dragged, and several times one or another of them was on the verge of colliding with us. Every so often I had to go outside and sound our horn to warn the other boat of the impending collision. Several times we had to put out our fenders because one of these boats was almost touching us. Fortunately almost all of these were sailboats, either smaller than “Faneromeni” or of the same length. But there was also a large yacht, over 50 meters long. This boat became the worst nightmare. For some time after we had anchored she was steady, but I then noticed on the radar that she was slowly moving. Full of apprehension, I went outside and then realized that she was gathering speed and heading towards us. I blasted the horn, I blasted again, and again. It was not until she was dangerously close to us that she finally started moving away under power. She then re-anchored. Until she moved away I was full of fear. It is one thing to have a ten-fifteen meter sailboat coming at you and it is a totally different thing to have a 50 meter metal monster about to smash you. In the meantime, conditions had not changed. Patience and vigilance were called for. After a relatively short time, and to my dismay, I saw the large yacht, fully lit, coming at us again. Until she moved away under power once more I was drenched by cold sweat. Finally she moved further away and re-anchored. Fortunately “Faneromeni,” thanks to her anchors and the long heavy chains, had not moved at all! Once again I saw the large yacht dragging but at least this time not towards us. When at last it became evident that their anchors were not going to hold her, they raised them and then spent the rest of the night moving inside the gulf without anchoring again.

While all this was going on, it was not yet quite daybreak. Patience till then. During situations like this you understand what a huge difference there is between darkness and light. After a while the rain stopped. Small relief. With the first faint light of dawn, the wind showed signs of being exhausted. After dawn, when there was finally light, I noticed that out on the gulf (along the coast line and, to be specific, in front of a large hotel) the wind was considerably weaker. The thought occurred to me to move there where conditions were more favorable and to be away from our neighbors whose anchors kept on dragging and who threatened to collide with us. At 07:00 we raised the anchors and then moved in front of the hotel. Indeed conditions here were much better and most of all there were no other boats near us to threaten us. Relief! I took the dogs ashore with the dinghy to a spot where there was no one. They were very pleased to put their paws on land after their long night’s ordeal. Mr. Naxos, in addition to his land exploration, had his swim as well. By the time we returned to the caïque the weather conditions had further improved. The wind was substantially weaker and the heavy clouds appeared as if they were beginning to dissipate. Since we were tired and hungry Scott made a magnificent breakfast: tea, eggs with bacon, toast, cheeses, honey with butter, fruit, etc. Soon the sky cleared and the wind calmed down.

The distance between paradise and hell is very short!

Finally by noon the sea was calm and the sun was shining. Under these benign conditions I decided to depart for Montenegro. We sailed at 13:03 for the nearby harbor of Cavtat. This is the last port of entry/exit in Croatia one encounters coming from the north. We were going to clear the the exit formalities from Croatia. After 2 nM we arrived in the cove/harbor of Cavtat. The time of our arrival was 13:20. We headed to the special section of the harbor reserved for boats either arriving to or departing from the country (we knew this because earlier we formally entered Croatia here). The official remembered us and the atmosphere was friendly. We finished all the formalities relatively quickly and without any difficulties.

We departed from Croatia for Montenegro at 14:50. The sea was pleasantly calm and the sky was blue. After a pleasant and trouble-free passage we arrived to harbor of Zelenika at 17:55 after 21 NM from Cavtat. Zelenika is a port of entry/exit for Montenegro and we were cleared here previously when leaving the country. In June when we entered Montenegro we cleared at Bar. I had then retained the agency of A1 Yacht Trade Consortium S.A. to handle all the formalities. But now, because we were entering the country for a second time and fairly soon after the first, the procedures were to be simpler. For this reason the agency’s office advised me not to use them but to handle the simple and easy procedures by myself. So with confidence I went to the proper official office, believing that we would be cleared within a short time. However, here applies a paraphrase of a Greek proverb: The wishes of men are one thing and quite another are the commands of Customs (Άλλαι μεν βουλαί ανθρώπων, άλλα δε Τελωνείο κελεύει.)

A problem emerged concerning Scott, who is a citizen of the Phillippines, when the local official in Zelenika claimed that he could not process Scott’s entry permission and that to process Scott’s papers I had to go overland to the land borders between Montenegro and Croatia, a distance of about 20 kilometers. After I expressed my strong displeasure at this, in order to calm me down they promised that a police car would come and take us to the border. They assured me that the police car would arrive within ten minutes. What could I do but wait? Ten minutes went by but there was no car. I pointed this out to the police officer and he replied that the car was on its way and will arrive very soon now. Twenty minutes went by. After half an hour without any sign of the police car, I was getting agitated. The reason I was so annoyed was that it was getting late in the afternoon. By the time it took to go to the border and spend an unknown amount of time there with the officials and come back, it would be almost night. But I did not want to overnight there in Zelenika because it is not a secure harbor. On the other hand, I did not like the idea of traveling during the night, even to a harbor a short distance away.

For these reasons I asked the police officer to call a taxi so as not to waste any more time. Eventually, after half an hour, the taxi did come but not the police car. So I went to the border in the taxi. Fortunately the police official there, who had already been alerted by his Zelenika colleague, simply stamped the proper document and in less than a minute I was done. We quickly returned and finally departed from Zelenika at 20:55. Our destination was the harbor of Herceg Novi, familiar from our last visit. This harbor was very close, only 2 nM from Zelenika, and so we arrived there at 21:12. The harbor attendant, who remembered us, welcomed us and with great pleasure helped us moor in the only available slip. Naturally there were water and electricity outlets right next to us. I went ashore for dinner and then, at last, went to sleep after several hours of no sleep and much tension. After those hours of trouble here was peace and security.

July 14, 07 Today we had sunshine and good weather. We gave the boat a total wash down and put things in order. Following this, we took a ride with the dinghy and the quadrupeds. We stopped in several places and they jumped in the water and climbed on rocks. When I called them back, the girls obediently returned, but the gentleman (Naxos) instead of coming back to the dinghy jumped into the water and started to swim towards the shore. He landed and disappeared. I was not alarmed because usually after he has his run he returns by himself to the caïque. So I returned to the boat with just the two girls. Usually Naxos comes back in a short time, always in less then an hour. An hour passed, then two, but he was nowhere to be seen. I started to worry.

After unloading the motor bike I started to search for him. I began my search in the nearby region and asked people if they had seen a dog of his description. Nothing. Not a sign of him anywhere. In addition to my worry about the animal I had another pressing concern: I definitely wanted to depart the next morning, taking advantage of the present fair weather. Two-three hours passed in a fruitless search by motor bike. Following this I devised another plan. Earlier in the day I had gone to a tourist agency asking for a map of the region. There I met an attractive young woman who also spoke English very well. So now I went back and explained to her my problem. I asked her to write, in her language, a notification describing the dog and to give it the title with large letters: Award 100 euro for whoever finds the dog. We also included the telephone numbers of the agency and of the marina, where I had already informed them of the escape. The young lady wrote the notice on her computer and then printed it. She also telephoned the local radio station and they agreed to make an announcement of this.

With the printed notice in hand I went to a copy store and made 300 copies. I then bought several rolls of scotch tape and together with Scott started posting all over town the notice of a missing dog. After a while the entire population of Herceg Novi––at least all the children–– was on the streets looking for Naxos. Of course, even the grownups kept their eyes open for him. Scott undertook to complete the posting while I continued to comb the area by motor bike. Soon the following scenario was repeated over and over. Someone would tell me that he had seen the dog, for example in the harbor of Zelenika, and I would rush there, only to be told that, yes, there was a dog there earlier, but now they were not sure if the dog was indeed the escapee. Naxos was nowhere, and this went on and on. Naturally now everyone kept asking us what happened. Had we found the dog? Time passed and night fell. The search during the night was harder, but I stuck with it. I searched non-stop until it was two in the morning and still there was no result. I went to sleep very tired and very disappointed.

July 15, 07 By 06:00 I was back on the streets with the motor bike searching while Scott also searched on foot. We searched all day, the whole extended area. By now there was no street that I had not searched two or three times. I now knew the area better then the area of my home. Despite all efforts, nothing. I was very tired and dejected. Sometime in the evening, at an intersection of a small alley that I had already crossed several times, I caught, with the corner of my eye, two dogs. I looked again and what do I see? Naxos strolling without a worry in the world and with a canine lady-friend. I called him and Mr. Naxos pretended that he did not know me and kept on strolling. I immediately jumped off the bike without shutting it off. I ran and grabbed him. I then put the bike on the side of the street and, still holding Naxos, walked to the central street looking for a taxi. I could not carry him on my lap on the bike as the distance to the boat was considerable, about 10 kilometers. With some trouble, at last we found a taxi and returned to the harbor. I gave the prodigal over to Scott for a bath since he was in a horrible condition. I then took the taxi back and retrieved the motor bike. So ended the adventure of the Prodigal Son.

July 16, 07 We departed Herceg Novi at 08:00 with good weather. Soon we were at the mouth of the Bay of Kotor (Montenegrin, Serbian, Croatian: Boka Kotorska, Cyrillic script: Бока Которска). We sailed near the islet of Mamula (or Lastavica), in the northern entrance of the bay. It is at a strategic place between the Prevlaka (northern entrance of the bay) and Lustica (southern entrance of the bay) peninsulas. There is a fort on the islet, built by the Austro-Hungarian General Lazar Mamula in the middle of the 19th century and it was given his name. During World War II the fort was used by the Italians as a prison.

The islet of Mamula or Lastavica at the northern entrance of the Bay of Kotor.
Montenegro, July 2007                    (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

Under pleasant conditions and without any incident we arrived at the Cove of Bigova at 09:30, a distance of 10 nM from Herceg Novi, where we anchored offshore. Later, together with the dogs, I explored the region with the dinghy; lots of swimming and jumping in the water and frequent stops in many places. In the evening I took a stroll ashore and then I had a very enjoyable meal at the fish taverna by the small picturesque harbor.

“Faneromeni” anchored of in the Cove Cove of Bigova.
Montenegro, July 2007                             (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

July 17, 07 We departed from Bigova for Bar at 08:30. The sea was perfectly flat and the day was full of sunshine. Later, when we were about half way to our destination, we encountered dolphins who stayed with us and kept us company for quite a while. This encounter with the dolphins was a very pleasant event.

Cruising with a perfectly calm sea and accompanied by dolphins. Heading south between Bigova and Bar.
Montenegro, July 2007                           (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

At Bar, familiar to us from our last visit in Montenegro, we completed our exit clearance formalities since it is a port of entry/exit. The pleasant conditions continued all the way until our arrival.

“Faneromeni” under pleasant conditions, sailing towards Bar. Scott at the bow is enjoying… Montenegro, July 2007                              (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

After crossing the 21 Nm that separate Bigova from Bar (Бар in Serbian and Cyrillic), we arrived in the harbor at 11:30. At he entrance of the small marina there is a fueling station where we moored side-to in order to refuel. The attendant arrived immediately and welcomed us. He, of course, remembered us from the last time we stayed here. After we topped our tanks, he guided us to our slip and helped moor. I then notified the by now familiar young woman of the A1 Yacht Trade Consortium S.A. to come and handle for us all of the exit formalities. Within a few minutes she came, willing and polite, and took with her all the needed documents. Soon she returned and told us that all formalities have been completed and that we were free to depart from Montenegro.

In the evening we went shopping at our familiar supermarket and we re-provisioned. Needless to say, the supermarket, like the previous time, brought our shopping with their van to the caïque. After that we prepared the boat for tomorrow’s journey.

July 18, 07 After saying goodbye to the friendly harbor attendants and the crews of the boats near us, we departed Bar at 08:10. Our destination was Albania.
The sea was very calm and the day was full of sun and no clouds. Under these circumstances the passage was without any incidents and very pleasant. At 15:35 we entered the familiar––from our last visit––harbor of Dyrrhachion (Δυρράχιον in Greek, Durrës in Albanian, and Durazzo in Italian) after covering 50 nM from Bar. The officials now gave us a warm welcome, since now we were already “friends” from the last time we were in their harbor. We moored side-to at the exact location on the quay that we occupied before. Several familiar people gathered to welcome us: the skippers of the pilot boats moored nearby, the crane operator, even the firemen. Everyone was asking, with great interest, about our trip north of their country. Under this atmosphere the clearance procedures were done in a flash. Further, because the weather was expected to deteriorate and we declared that we would be departing tomorrow, the officials told us that we did not need any further clearance and that we can depart any time we wanted next morning!

In the afternoon I visited the nearby Church of Apostle Paul and Saint Astios.

The holy Church of Apostle Paul and Saint Astios was built under the initiative, care, love, and funds procured by his Holiness the Archbishop of Tirana, Dyrrhahion, and of all Albania Anastasios for the restoration of the Orthodox and Independent Church of Albania and to the glory of God.

The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Anastasios in November of 1994, while the work was completed by early 2002. At this holy church in November 1999 the Orthodox parishioners of Dyrrhahion welcomed with a special mass the Oecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in his first visit to Albania. The first regular masses began in the Holy Week of 2002.

May 3, 2009, Palm Sunday, Archbishop Anastasios inaugurated the church with the ceremony of “thiranixion”, which is one of the most magnificent and celebratory masses of our Church.

In the evening I had a pleasant walk in a district near the harbor which is reserved for pedestrians and has shops of all kind. All the shops stay open until late at night. Lots of people, especially young people, walk in this district. I had supper in a souvlatzidiko (shish kebab taverna) which served an excellent shish kebab. The owners of this taverna have lived for many years in our country (Greece). When they understood that I came from Greece they put in front of me so much gyro that I was unable to eat it all.

July 19, 07 We departed Dyrrhahion at 07:33 heading south. Recalling the hardship that we had in the exact opposite course a few weeks ago, we were somewhat apprehensive. But now we had a lovely calm sea without the swell that gave us then such a difficult time. The sky was blue and everything was enchanted. The previous night, when I mentioned to our friends the pilot boat skippers that our destination was Aulon where we had stopped on our northbound trip and where we had a hard time, they advised us not to go back. Instead they recommended a newly-built marina, in fact the only marina in Albania, which is located at the southern side of the large Bay of Aulon and is called Oricum. Now once again we were faced with the same problem that we had at the beginning of our trip: the lack of adequate Albanian charts. This marina is not shown on the charts, at least on the charts in my possession, nor is it mentioned in any of the cruising guides. Further, the plan of the Bay of Aulon in my guide is shown as a restricted area!

The problem with the charts and of navigating in Albania is mentioned at the beginning of Chapter B.

Given all these, when we arrived in the Bay of Aulon and proceeded to its southern side I was somewhat uneasy. In essence we were sailing in unknown waters without a chart or other information and we did not know exactly where we were going. As we approached the head of the bay my unease was increasing. The depth began to lessen and I had to lower our speed and place Scott at the bow to look carefully ahead while I kept looking at the depth sounder and had all my senses alerted. In the meantime there was no sign of the marina. Proceeding further into the bay I could faintly see near the head something that could be the marina that we were seeking. I kept our course toward that spot and when we got closer and one could discern better I could see that it was indeed a small harbor. But in that harbor there was only a small naval ship. So I understood that this was an Albanian naval base and definitely not a harbor for pleasure boats. I decided to keep sailing parallel to and near the shoreline and hope to find the marina, if indeed it existed. After we proceeded this way for two-three miles I saw in the distance, at the center of a large deserted beach, a building that looked like a possible hotel. As we got closer I noticed that in front of this building were two posts that could possibly be masts . Closing further in, I was sure that they were the masts of two sailboats, but I wondered, “Could this be the marina with only two sailboats?” Approaching very carefully now we were assured that we had arrived at our destination. Someone was there at the entrance to direct us. We had arrived at the famous Oricum Marina. The time was 15:25 and we had come 59 nM from Dyrrhahion. We received a friendly welcome and we were assisted while mooring. The two sailboats, as it turned out, were stored there and belonged to foreigners. Nevertheless, right there at the first dock where we had moored there were water and electricity outlets!

“Faneromeni” in Oricum, the only marina in Albania.
Albania, July 2007                         (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

We later learned that Oricum was in Ancient Greek Orikos - Ωρικός and it was an ancient Greek city in Northern Epirus (modern south Albania), at the south end of the Bay of Aulon (Vlorë).

The marina attendant gave me information about this region but he also told me that normally we should have first gone to Aulon for clearance by the authorities and then come here to the marina. Now we must go to Aulon overland for this clearance. Eventually he volunteered to go there himself, instead of me, and clear us with the authorities. I was very relieved.


Following this we landed the motor bike because I wanted to visit the village of Oricum and explore the region. I rode to the village right away since I wanted to find a laundry that would wash our dirty clothes. The village was primitive but colorful and genuine. I learned that there was no laundry anywhere. Nevertheless I did not want to return to the caïque with the bag of clothes without having accomplished anything. I made another reconnaissance of the central street, the only paved street in the village, and located a store, what we call a general village store. It was small but had a little of everything: fabrics, clothes, cosmetics, kitchen utensils, decorative household items, small electric appliances, sewing materials, and much more. I explained, with some difficulty because of the language barrier, to the shopkeeper that we are from a caïque that came from Greece and that we need to have some clothes washed. He answered that there was no laundry in the village. I answered that yes, but could not your wife take our clothes to her home and wash them? We will pay, of course. We made an agreement and I exited the store. In the meantime, outside the store it seemed that all the village children had gathered admiring the small Honda motor bike. They had never seen such a small motor bike and they were very excited! They started pleading with me to give them a ride. What could I do? I could not refuse them. So I started giving rides to the kids, one after another. By then the whole village had gathered admiring their offspring riding on this curious motor bike, driven by a Greek driver to boot. When I finally rode away from the village the poor kids ran after me pleading for second rides. With all of this, by the time I made it back to the boat night was falling.

July 20, 07 The day began with the thorough inside and outside washing of the caïque. After that I decided to visit, by motor bike, a mountain village in the region. The road was much longer then I expected and the dirt road very rough. The bike had trouble negotiating it. Eventually, after a long time and effort, I arrived at the village. The village was not exactly what we think of as a village. It covered a large area in which there were many animal pens, with sheep and goats, and scattered stone huts. The people I met were really poor and looked at me as if I had come from another planet. It was there that I realized why so many people from this country come to Greece seeking a better fortune. After this adventure I thought that it would be best to go swimming in the sea.

After my return to the caïque I took my usual company, the dogs, on the dinghy and we headed out of the marina to go swimming, ignoring the strict prohibition of the Ayioi Saranta and Dyrrhahion Harbor Masters on using the dinghy anywhere in Albania. There was a large deserted beach where I let the dogs out. They ran here and there on the sand and then they dove in the water. All, skipper and quadrupeds, had a very good time. After some time we returned to the caïque where the dogs were bathed and shampooed since there was plenty of water available right next to us.

Looking towards the exit of the Oricum, Marina
Albania, July 2007                         (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

Later I rode back to the village of Oricum to collect the clothes that I had given yesterday for washing. The same scene with the children and the motor bike as yesterday was repeated again. I could not escape. Eventually I bought some very good shish-kebabs from a taverna and took them back to the caïque for Scott.

July 21, 07 We departed from Oricum at 08:05 heading for Panormos. The weather was good. After exiting the Bay of Aulon, to both my surprise and sorrow, I saw that the whole region had been burned and was still smoking. The fire had spread from the small burning area that we had seen when we were coming on June 26 and which I had brought to the attention of the Aulon Harbor Master. It seems that the authorities were tardy in dealing with it and as result a large are of southern Albania was burned.

The sad view of the the burned area outside the Bay of Aulon.
Albania, July 2007                         (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

We proceeded with calm seas for about twenty miles after which we encountered a large and lovely beach. I approached to have a better look. Right inland from the beach rose a mountainous area. At the foot of this was a village. This village is the famous Himara (Albanian: Himarë; Greek: Χειμάρα). (This region of Northern Epirus is populated, to a large extent, by ethnic Greeks) Himara is located in the foothills of the Ceraunian Mountains (Greek: Κεραύνια Ώρη, Keravnia Ori, "Thunder Mountains").

Sailing along the Albanian coastline. The mountain village in the photograph is Himara.
Albania, July 2007                          (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

After a while we sailed by the modern Himara, a coastal town which is the center of this region. There is a small quay there but it cannot be called a harbor. We continued and at 14:12, and after 44 nM from Oricum, we arrived in the Bay of Panormos (Bay of Porto Palermo). Panormos is also part of Northern Epirus. I anchored off temporarily so that I could go with the dinghy and reconnoiter the dock. Also anchored off was a large classic sailboat, the only sailboat that we we met during our two trips in Albania (in June going north and now going south). As I was going to the dock I noticed that there was plenty of depth around it.. The whole construction looked military and was T shaped. It was old and looked abandoned, probably it was used in the past by naval ships. The dock was fairly high, at least in relation to the caïque. On its inside it looked protected and secure. There was no one anywhere near. Weighing all these factors, I decided to moor “Faneromeni” on this dock side-to. We raised the anchor and came alongside the inside of the dock.

“Faneromeni” alongside the dock in Panormos. On the right background there is the lovely old classic sailboat.
Albania, July 2007                       (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

After securing the caïque, the usual gang, Naxos, Mavrouka, Pissa, and the skipper, took the dinghy to go swimming. There was a lovely small cove near the sailboat, and we went there. When we went by the sailboat I waived to them from some distance. As soon as we reached the cove, and before the dinghy stopped, all the dogs one after the other jumped into the water. They then did their usual things. Small land exploration, dives from the rocks, climbing by themselves back on the dinghy, more dives, and so on. The people on board the classic sailboat gathered on her stern and watched the dogs. When we were finally returning the people waived us to approach. I did so and after first exchanging some greetings they asked me to climb aboard and get further acquainted. The dogs stayed, of course, patiently in the dinghy. The people of the sailboat were Italians, very proper and polite. They, too, had two dogs aboard and were animal lovers so they had admired mine who are so well accustomed to the water. They were impressed. They also expressed their admiration for the “Faneromeni.” We exchanged a lot of friendly information. Their boat was in an immaculate condition although she was built before WW II. In the end I informed them that I had received a weather forecast and the weather was expected to deteriorate that night. For this reason I proposed to them, if they wished, to also come alongside on the dock. I told them that the depth was more than adequate and, if they did, I would help them moor. They thanked me but said that they preferred to stay where they were. After we exchanged addresses we bid each other good-by and I left.

The lovely old classic sailboat and “Faneromeni” faintly in the background.
Albania, July 2007                               (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

After this pleasant meeting, and after I left the quadrupeds on the caïque, I went ashore to explore. A small distance from the dock there was small narrow road. I walked on it and a short distance later I came across a rustic country taverna. There were no customers. Immediately the owner appeared and welcomed me in fluent Greek. He had, of course, seen the caïque arrive with her large Greek flag, and he now knew that I had come from her. He was an ethnic Albanian Greek. I sat down to have a small meal and he kept me company and provided a lot of information about the region. Among other things he explained that the castle we see on the peninsula that separates the Bay of Panormos into two gulfs was built by Ali Pasha of Tepelena, better known to us as Ali Pasha of Ioannina. When Ali decided to built his castle on the peninsula he commissioned a renowned French engineer, specializing in castles, to oversee the project. On top of the peninsula, exactly where the castle was to be erected, there was a chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas. Ali, however, did not like the idea of tearing down the chapel, even though he was a Moslem. So he ordered the French engineer to tear down the chapel but to re-build one outside the peninsula, where there stands today a new chapel of St. Nicholas. And so he did. After both castle and chapel were completed, the French engineer went to Ali asking for the pay that they had agreed upon. Then Ali told him: “I will not pay you before I have verified that both buildings that you built are sound and strong.” Whereupon he ordered his guard to arrest the Frenchman and imprison him in the new St. Nicholas chapel. He also ordered the castle guard to bombard the chapel with the Frenchman inside. The bombardment began but it was impossible to wreck the chapel! After this the Frenchman was set free, was given the full pay as agreed, and he departed in a hurry… And to prove all this, the taverna owner took me to the chapel and showed me the canon balls from the bombardment that are kept to this day.

The small peninsula with Ali Pasha’s castle in Porto Panormo.
Albania, July 2007                                           (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

Ali Pasha built this castle to honor his wife Vassiliki.
Albania, July 2007                                         (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

The chapel of St. Nicholas in Panormo.
Albania, July 2007                             (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

The interior of the chapel of St. Nicholas in Panormo.
Albania, July 2007                               (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

After this visit I expressed my wish to also visit Himara of Northern Epirus. Of course, at this place not only were there no busses but even cars went by rather rarely. He told me: “Let us go and have some coffee and when a car passes I will make arrangements to give you a ride.” Sure enough, after a while a small agricultural truck appeared. The taverna keeper ran and stopped it. He knew the driver, and I hopped in. During the ride the driver accelerated as if he was in a rally. The dirt road was mountainous and narrow. If another car were to come from the opposite direction, it would not fit. He was driving as if he was in a one-way street. Fortunately we did not meet another car. He headed towards modern Himara, a coastal town that was originally the harbor of the mountainous Himara, but today it is developed and is the center of the region.

The modern Himara as seen from the mountainous Himara.
Albania, July 2007                                        (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

The presence of Greek elements here is striking. There many stores with Greek signs, busses labeled “Himara-Ioannina”, or “Himara-Omonia”, you can hear Greek spoken on the street, etc. I took a small walk and I talked to several people. I then took a taxi to the old mountainous Himara. The driver was also an ethnic Albanian-Greek. During the short ride to the village I bombarded him with questions and so I was fairly well informed about the region and its inhabitants. When we reached the village entrance the driver stopped the taxi and explained that cars cannot enter because there were no streets, only narrow alleys.

A characteristic alley of mountainous Himara.
Albania, July 2007                            (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

The taxi driver assured me that he would wait for me while I leisurely walked around the village. Walking in this village one thinks that he is walking in an old village in Epirus in Greece. All the houses are made of stone, and so are its alleys, many of the houses are deserted, there are few inhabitants, all are ethnic Greek, I think. I am not sure, but in the village I did not meet a single Albanian.

A typical deserted stone house. Mountainous Himara,
Albania, July 2007                      (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

While walking around I saw an nice old two-story stone house from which I could hear Greek voices. Its courtyard gate was open and so I stood there and greeted the people. Immediately they got up to greet me and invite me for a treat. They were an elderly couple and their grandchildren visiting for the summer. The children live with their parents in Athens. They were very hospitable and they offered me coffee and a very nice homemade spoon sweet made of grapes. I sat with them for some time while they told me about the village difficulties and of their sorrows. They gave me a lot of information about the village and suggested that I visit its old church that was not too far from their house. They were very dignified and polite, I liked them. After I thanked them, I walked towards the church.

Another stone village alley. Mountainous Himara,
Albania, July 2007                      (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

I soon found the old Greek Orthodox church. It was in a bad condition from every respect. The churchyard was totally abandoned, and the church building was also in bad condition. As far as the interior is concerned, you can see from the picture.

The Old Orthodox church. Mountainous Himara,
Albania, July 2007                                    (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

This visit to the old church brought to me a feeling of sadness about its abandonment. I continued my exploration of the village. The old abandoned buildings were interspersed with well-kept stone houses and courtyards.

Another characteristic alley of mountainous Himara. The gate that can be seen on the left was the house of the Greeks who invited me and offered coffee and sweets.
Mountainous Himara, Albania, July 2007                                 (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

Keeping in mind that the taxi driver was waiting for me (although he urged me not to hurry my village walk) and because I did not want to waste his time, I decided to hurry up. While walking towards the village exit I saw, to my amazement, a modern complex consisting of a church and another building.

The belfry of the modern stone Greek Orthodox church in Himara.
Mountainous Himara, Albania, July 2007                              (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

Next to the church was an imposing belfry. All the buildings were made of stone and looked new. Everything was well-kept, made of stone, with a nice and spacious churchyard. A number of children were playing in the yard. I climbed down the stairs to the level of the buildings. The church was locked so I was unable to enter.

The churchyard entrance.
Mountainous Himara, Albania, July 2007                           (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

I approached and talked to the children, who all spoke Greek. They eagerly told me that the building and the yard where they were playing was the Greek school serving the district. They were pleased that a Greek from Greece had visited their village and asked how I came to be there. When I told them that I had come with a boat which was moored in Panormos, I rose even further in their estimation. They did not want to let me go and they bombarded me with their questions about my journey.

The modern Greek school of Himara.
Mountainous Himara, Albania, July 2007                                (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

I was very impressed by this school. Many cities, not just villages, in our country do not have such an attractive and well kept school! It is example worth following.

Near the school there was a grave/monument. Its inscription kindled my interest:

ΜΙΛΙΟΣ Ι. ΣΠΥΡΟΜΙΛΙΟΣ (MILIOS I. SPYROMILIOS)
ΕΦΟΝΕΥΘΕΙ ΑΠΟ ΤΟΣ ΠΑΡΤΙΖΑΝΟΥΣ (KILLED BY THE PARTIZANS)
ΩΣ ΕΧΘΡΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΛΑΟΥ (AS AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE)
18-8-1944
ΩΣ ΕΛΛΗΝ (AS A GREEK)

This last sentence: “As a Greek” impressed me very much.

The grave/monument of Milios I. Spyromilios.
Mountainous Himara, Albania, July 2007                             (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

The name of Spyromilios is very familiar in our country, Greece. Many personalities with this surname have made history. Beginning with general Spyridon Spyromilios, a revolutionary fighter in the 1821 Greek War of Independence and subsequent politician. Then Spyros Spyromilios distinguished himself in the Macedonian Struggle and in the Balkan Wars, t followed by Pyrros Spyromilios, the distinguished naval officer. The latter, after his retirement from the army, became the general director of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation where his strong personality left a permanent legacy. He was also known for his great love of Melina Merkouri. All three personalities were from Himara.

After my visit to the renowned Himara, we started on our way back to Panormos. The taxi driver, a very simpatico and well-versed Himariot, was an inexhaustible source of information. On the north side of the Bay of Panormos I had observed earlier this morning a structure that looked military and had roused my interest.

The structure that looked military and had roused my interest.
Panormos, Albania, July 2007                              (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

So when we were near Panormos I asked the driver about it. He explained that it was an Albanian Navy installation.They had dug an underground tunnel through the mountain such that a naval ship or a submarine could pass through from one gulf to the next without rounding the peninsula.

A closer view of than the previous photograph.
Panormos, Albania, July 2007                             (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

An even closer view of the installation.
Panormos, Albania, July 2007                             (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

After a while we arrived where the caïque was moored. First I checked the boat. There was some wind blowing but not worrisome for the time being.

“Faneromeni” in Panormos. The castle of Ali Pasha in the background.
Panormos, Albania, July 2007                                (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

I then went to the taverna to thank the owner for his help with my visit to Himara. I stayed there and had my supper. It was a pleasant evening in the company of the taverna keeper and with good food. But by then the wind was blowing stronger and I hurried my departure to return and check the conditions of the caïque. There was no problem where we were moored. But, for our peace of mind, we added two more spring lines and several more fenders. I then looked towards the classic sailboat and I saw that she was dragging. I was thinking that I should go with the dinghy and warn them in case they were not aware of this. While I was getting ready to do this I saw some commotion on board. They had started their engine and were raising their anchor. They then re-anchored in deeper water. After a while they dragged again and repeated the whole process. After several more attempts and seeing that their anchor was not holding, they gave up and kept circling in the roomy bay for the rest of the night! Finally, after dawn, they went out to sea and departed. The wind blew fitfully all night and although we were safe I was on stand-by and watched all the comings and goings of the Italians.

July 22, 07 Early this morning the wind began to diminish. After the wind had substantially subsided I decided to depart. We departed Panormos at 08:58 heading to Ayioi Saranta. While exiting the bay we saw, from outside the bay, Ali Pasha’s impressive castle for the last time.

The castle of Ali Pasha.
Panormos, Albania, July 2007                          (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

By the time we were outside the bay the wind had diminished even more. So we sailed with fair weather and without any problems the short distance to our destination. On 11:20 and after 18 nM we arrived at the southernmost Albanian port of entry/exit Ayioi Saranta (Sarandë). We moored with ease in the harbor that was familiar from our visit in June. Earlier I had earlier called the Ayioi Saranta Harbor Master advising him of our impending arrival and that we wanted to clear the formalities for exiting Albania. So now the Harbor Master was already waiting for us. He, himself, undertook to clear all the formalities without us doing anything further. This was such a far cry from the production when we entered the country in June. Within half an hour we had on board all the needed documents and were free to depart from Albania.

Finally we departed Ayioi Saranta at 12:00. The sea was calm and the sky all blue. Under these pleasant conditions we arrived at a group of Albanian islets that are south of Ayioi Saranta and exactly across the cove of Ayios Stephanos in Corfu. Since this was a very nice day and since we did not have a large distance left to reach our destination, I decided to make a swimming stop in these islands. So at 12:48 and after 6 nM from Ayioi Saranta, we anchored in the cove between the coastal resort of Examilia (Albanian: Ksamil) and the four islets of the same name. Obviously the name Ksamil derives from the Greek Examilia (Εξαμίλια - six miles). From one side we had the beach of the coastal resort of Examilia.

The beach of the coastal resort of Examilia.
Examilia, Albania, July 2007                       (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

And from the other side, a short distance away, one of the Examilia islets, with very attractive waters. On this islet there is a small cove with a nice beach. People were coming there to swim, mostly with small rowboats, from the nearby mainland.

One of the Examilia islets.
Examilia, Albania, July 2007                              (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

While I was getting ready to take the dinghy and go for a swim, the dogs, seeing this, got very exited. Usually, if the dinghy is alongside the caïque, they jump in it and wait for me. But now, seeing that I was wearing a bathing suit, they did not even jump into the dinghy but instead jumped straight into the water and swam to the closest islet. I went there, too, after a while and collected them back in the inflatable dinghy and we then visited the next islet. We found there a beach totally devoid of people and the dogs had a good run on the beach, dove into the water, etc. They were very pleased and so was the skipper.

“Faneromeni” anchored on one of the Examilia islets.
Examilia, Albania, July 2007                               (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

My plan was not to spend too long there. I wanted to leave and go to overnight in a safe cove in Epirus. But while we were getting ready to depart, a small rowboat came rowing from one nearby islet with a group of locals who wanted to see up close the Greek caïque and to meet us. Although they only spoke broken Greek we had no trouble communicating. They provided us with information about their country and were impressed by the “Faneromeni” and our journey. After we said good-bye they rowed back to the islet they had come from.

The group of Albanians who came to visit the unusual Greek boat are rowing back.
Examilia, Albania, July 2007                                (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

Eventually we departed from Examilia at 14:00, Albanian time. We had fair weather and after approximately ten miles we came to Cape Ftelia. This is the boundary between Greece and Albania. We saw the guardhouses. First the Albanian and then the Greek. We then lowered the Albanian courtesy flag and advanced our clocks one hour to Greek time. It is a sweet feeling to return to your home country!

Finally at 16:22, Greek time, and after 11 nM from Examilia in Albania, we arrived to the Panayia Cove in Thesprotia (Greek: Θεσπρωτία), Epirus (Greek: Ήπειρος), Greece.

Return home! “Faneromeni”, at dusk, anchored in the Panayia Cove.
Thesprotia, Epirus, Greece, July 2007                 (Archives of Nikos E. Riginos)

“Faneromeni” travelled 276 nM from Miliet Island to the Panayia Cove in Thesprotia. Her engine worked for 46 hours. The trip lasted 12 days.

For a detailed map of this leg click on Google A.

From the Panayia Cove the return trip within Greece began. This lasted a fair amount of time. I visited several places in mainland Greece and several islands. It was an unforgettable summer. But I believe that it would be tiring for the reader to read in detail the trip which was already described in previous chapters. So, from here on I will limit my description to brief mention of the places I visited.

July 23, 07 Departure from Panayia Cove at 07:45, arrival at 10:12 at the islet of Ayios Nicholaos in Sivotas, Thesprotia, Epirus, distance 18 nM.

July 24, 07 Departure from the islet of Ayios Nicholaos at 08:43, arrival at 13:56 at the Preveza Marina, Epirus, distance 39 nM.

July 27, 07 Departure from the Preveza Marina at 08:50, moved at 09:50 at the Preveza Harbor, distance 0.25 nM.

July 28, 07 Departure from Preveza Harbor at 09:20 heading for the northern entrance of the Lefkas channel. While underway I was informed via the VHF that the Lefkas Bridge was damaged so boats were unable to enter the channel. I was forced to return to Prveza. Arrival at 10:40 at the Vathy Cove, Preveza, distance 10 nM.

July 29, 07 Departure from Vathy Cove, Preveza, at 08:07. Since the Lefkas Bridge was seriously damaged and there was no estimate of when it would be operational again, I decided to sail around Lefkas heading for Sivotas. Arrival at 13:07 at the Sivotas Bay, Lefkas, distance 36 nM.

July 31, 07 Departure from the Sivotas Bay at 13:55, arrival at 15:23 at the Karpali Cove in the island of Meganisi, distance 10 nM.

August 2, 07 Departure from Karpali Cove at 13:42, arrival at 14:00 at the Atheni Cove in the island of Meganisi, distance 3 nM.

August 3, 07 Departure from Atheni Cove at 10:25, arrival at 11:54 at Kalamos Island, distance 11 nM.

August 7, 07 Departure from Kalamos at 11:10, arrival at 11:43 to Kastos Island, distance 5 nM.

August 8, 07 Departure from Kastos at 08:16, arrival at 10:34 at Aetos Cove, Ithaca Island, under the house of Mr. Vlassopoulos, distance 17 nM.

August 9, 07 Departure from Aetos Cove at 08:25, arrival at 10:40 at Ayia Efimia, Kefalonia Island, distance 16 nM.

August 12, 07 Departure from Ayia Efimia at 08:19, arrival at 13:50 at the harbor of Mesolongi, distance 39 nM.

August 14, 07 Departure from Mesolongi at 11:15, arrival at 16:12 at Trizonia Island in the Gulf of Corinth, distance 34 nM.

August 15, 07 Departure from Trizonia at 08:24, arrival at 16:12 at the Harbor of Corinth, distance 46 nM.

August 16, 07 Departure from the Harbor of Corinth at 08:17. Transited the Corinth Canal and arrived at 09:15 at Isthmia, distance 4 nM.

August 16, 07 Departure from Isthmia at 09:38, arrival at 11:45 at Korfos Sofikou, distance 15 nM.

August 17, 07 Departure from Korfos Sofikou at 09:00, arrival at 10:28 at the harbor of Palea Epidhavros, distance 10 nM.

August 20, 07 Departure from Palea Epidhavros at 08:57, arrival at 10:28 at Russian Bay, Poros Island, distance 19 nM.

August 21, 07 Departure from Russian Bay at 08:32, arrival at 12:16 at the Baltiza (Old Harbor), Spetses Island, Gulf of Argolis, distance 26 nM.

August 29, 07 Departure from Baltiza at 11:45, arrival at 12:10 at Chinítsa Island, Gulf of Argolis, distance 4 nM.

August 29, 07 Departure from Chinítsa Island at 13:42, arrival at 14:00 at the Harbor of Porto Heli, Gulf of Argolis, distance 2 nM.

September 10, 07 Departure from Porto Heli at 10:05, arrival at 17:00 atthe Glyfadha Marina 4, distance 50 nM.

The distance “Faneromeni” travelled from Panayia Cove to the Glyfadha Marina 4, her home port, was 414 nM. Her engine worked for 73 hours. The trip lasted 50 days.

The grand total from the the beginning of the trip to the return was 1,254 nM. Her engine worked for a total of 217 hours. The whole trip lasted 62 days.

END of CHAPTER D

The return route of “Faneromeni” from the island of Miliet in Croatia to Marina 4 in Glyfada.
For a larger view click on the picture, for a more detailed view click on Google A, Google B, Google C, Google D.